Arthritis - Medical specialists

Here you will find medical experts in clinics and medical practices in the medical field Arthritis. All listed physicians are specialists in their field and have been carefully selected for you according to strict guidelines.
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Arthritis - Further information

In which medical field is an arthritis specialist active?

Though arthritic conditions are often initially diagnosed by your primary care doctor, many who suffer from one of the many different types of arthritis may be referred on to an arthritis specialist. This is likely to be a rheumatologist, who will be an expert in arthritis and a number of other diseases that can affect the bones, muscles and joints.

Rheumatology, a sub-speciality of internal medicine, is a multidisciplinary area of medicine that deals with the investigation, diagnosis and management of patients suffering from arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions. This encompasses more than 200 disorders affecting muscles, joints, bones and soft tissues, and includes inflammatory arthritis as well as other systemic autoimmune disorders, vasculitis, soft tissue conditions, spinal pain and metabolic bone disease. In addition, there are a considerable number of musculoskeletal conditions that can also affect other organ systems.

A rheumatologist is a qualified clinical specialist who will have been carefully trained to manage and treat all kinds of arthritis, and will be capable of making difficult diagnoses and advising on conditions that may require complex treatment. Furthermore, a rheumatologist also works alongside other specialists whose services may be required to treat arthritic conditions. Some of these different healthcare specialists may include:

  • physiotherapists
  • occupational therapists
  • chiropractors
  • podiatrists

Which illnesses does an arthritis specialist treat?

Among the many diseases a rheumatologist may treat, there are several where the primary feature is joint pain. These are the conditions that are typically understood to constitute arthritis, and include:

Osteoarthritis – This is the common ‘wear and tear’ form of arthritis, which may affect the large and small joints of older adults (e.g. knee, hip, back and feet, as well as hands and wrists). Typically, the disease causes cartilage damage, followed later by bone erosion.

Rheumatoid arthritis – With rheumatoid arthritis, the body’s immune system begins to destroy the joint linings, cartilage and other tissues of those aged 20 or more. Commonly affecting knees, elbows, wrists and fingers, the disease causes bone erosion, and benefits from early diagnosis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Gout – Gouty forms of arthritis generally begin in one joint, but will gradually spread to others. An especially painful disease, gout can cause joints to swell and lose function.

There are many other diseases and conditions where arthritic joint pain is present as a secondary feature, including hepatitis, psoriasis and inflammatory bowel diseases.

What treatment methods do arthritis specialists use?

Because there is no cure for osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, treatments focus on slowing the progression of each particular type of disease and on the management of symptoms. Options include physiotherapy, lifestyle adjustments, medication to reduce inflammation, and orthopaedic support.

Physiotherapy

Physical movement and exercise support joint health and help to reduce pain. This approach combats the joint stiffness associated with arthritis by building muscle strength, endurance and flexibility, an initiative that can often match the relief from pain and restoration of function that can be achieved with medication.

Medication

Treatment usually begins conservatively with those medications that cause few side effects. For osteoarthritis, that may mean acetaminophen (paracetamol), while non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, are used for rheumatoid arthritis. Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are also used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis to act on the immune system and thus slow down the development of the disease.

Alternative medicine

Alternative and complementary therapies are often used to achieve gains, such as pain relief, without the risks of side effects. Though certain foods, such as fish oil and chilli peppers, as well as yoga exercises, have been shown to offer some benefits, many other therapies fall short of providing convincing research evidence.

The pain relief provided by electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) for knee osteoarthritis is under consideration, while in Canada, pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF) has been legally licensed for arthritic pain relief.

What additional qualifications are required by arthritis specialists?

Rheumatologists are generally required to complete four years of medical or osteopathic education. This is then followed by three years of residency training, either in paediatrics or internal medicine (some rheumatologists may be trained in both disciplines). Afterwards, they must complete a rheumatology fellowship – which can take two or three years – in which they will study chronic musculoskeletal and autoimmune conditions and learn about their treatment.

Following this, a rheumatologist must sit a board examination to gain rheumatology certification. In order to retain this qualification, the exam certification procedure must be repeated every 10 years. Every year, physicians are also asked to undergo a certain level of continuing medical education.

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